The American Red Cross has used social media as a great tool for interacting and informing the public on their activities. The organization launched into social media after the hurricane Katrina disaster. It hired Wendy Harman as the company’s social media. The company had been receiving negative comments for their efforts in the disaster. The social media manager’s role was to get into the blogging social media forum and correct the misinformation on the company’s organization.
The company started listening to the public through forums such as blogging, twitter and Facebook. It found people who are optimists and are willing to help financially and in any other matter in times of disaster. The company now welcomes negative comments as it is seen as an opportunity to improve, educate and inform the public (Briones, Kuch, Liu, Jin, 2011). Wendy notes that the employees of the organisation had been restricted from social media sites but now all the employees were given access to listen and interact with the public.
American Red Cross Social Media Initiatives
The American Red Cross has several social media platforms where their presence is felt. The company has a chat room where the public get to chat with each other and officials from the company. There is the Red Cross blog where the company states that the objective of the blog is to incite from the public discussions on what the company is concerned about. The platform is also used to communicate to people the actions they can take to prevent, prepare for or response to catastrophes or disasters. The company also offers to the public information on how they can prevent or respond to disasters.
The company has a disaster online newsroom where the company staffs on the ground give updates to the public what is happening on the ground as the disaster occurs. It also gives news on the disaster response and the resources that the company has. The company has a flickr site from the Yahoo Company where it encourages the public to post their photos in how they are donating their time, money and blood to helping others caught up in disasters. The company and public get to comment on each other’s photos. The public can also upload videos and screenshots or screencasts.
The company has a Facebook fan page where the public get to see and comment on the Red Cross initiatives. They have followers on twitter and it is a quick and fast way of communicating to the public. The company has a YouTube account where it has posted videos of their disaster effort and responses. The company is on LinkedIn which is a site where professionals get to connect, interact and network for opportunities. The American Red Cross page gives a brief background of the company and the activities it is involved. It has a page on careers where the public get to know the vacancies. The company also keeps the public informed of the existing and new employees in the organization. The site is also interconnected to the company blog site so the public get to know the information that the company has posted.
The company has a page in the Ammado website. This is a platform that connects the non-governmental organizations and other social responsible organizations to the public. It is a forum where the public gets to donate money. The people get to donate money through
various options such as credit card with the touch of the keyboard. The company also interacts and solicits for funds from the public through the social vibe website. The public get to donate money and are kept aware of the financial targets and the amount that has already been collected. Social vibe is a platform that connects the public with charities and gives them opportunities to promote or support a cause.
Good2gether is another social site where the company has a page or presence. The website also connects charities with the public.
The social media efforts have helped the company raise substantial amounts of money. It has also assisted them to ask for blood donations from the public. The people who have been seriously been seriously injured. This has helped save lives. There are so many people who go to hospitals to help out. The social media has also raised the awareness of the company and the activities they engage in the public. The public do not have to refer to third parties on information about the company. This is great since third parties can misreport information. The organization is actually in the process of releasing a social media strategy handbook for the staff. The book highlights the importance and benefits of engaging in social media.
A survey conducted by the Red Cross found that many people who use the web a lot would turn to social media to ask for help in times of disaster if they were unable to call or reach help through the emergency lines (The American Red Cross, 2009). The people know that a lot of people access social media and they would respond to their plight.
The company has reaped the benefits of social media. Other charities and non-governmental organisations should launch into social media strategically and see how their public image will be enhanced. More importantly they will be able to get the financial support for their activities (Lindsay, 2011). It is a tool that helps the companies communicate with the public and get funding. Companies should not fear or be ignorant.
Lindsay, Bruce “ Social Media and Disasters: Current Uses, Future Options, and
Policy Considerations”. Federation of American Scientists. September 6, 2011. Web. 9th November, 2011. http://www. fas. org/sgp/crs/homesec/R41987. pdf
Briones, Rowena, Kuch, Beth, Liu, Fisher and Yan Jin. “ Keeping up with the
digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships’. Public Relations Review 37 (2011) : 37–43. Web. 9th November, 2011. http://kcb207group4. wikispaces. com/file/view/PR+Review+Journal+Article. pdf
The American Red Cross. “ Web Users Increasingly Rely on Social Media to Seek Help
in a Disaster” August 9, 2009. Web. 9th November, 2011. http://www. redcross. org/portal/site/en/
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